The digestive system in children is inherently weak. During the 5-6 years that it takes for the digestive system to mature many common problems can occur such as colic, ear infections, cough, swollen glands, allergies, asthma, and eczema. With an appropriate diet many illnesses can be treated and prevented.
Chinese herbs are used to treat digestive problems by strengthening digestive function and eliminating mucus production. Many herbal formulas come in easy to administer tinctures and teas. Acupuncture is used with much success in treating digestive problems. On very small children and infants, tiny acupuncture needles may be quickly inserted and removed. Treatment plans vary depending on the severity and tonicity of the illness and most children respond very rapidly to treatment. Daily abdominal massage, which will be instructed by your acupuncturist, is very helpful in regulating digestive function and maintaining the positive benefits of Chinese medicine.
General guidelines for good digestion to use at home:
- Breastfeeding: Non-supplemented breastfeeding for the first 6 months. Breastfeed for at least one year. Babies can be overfed because of their weak digestive systems. If your baby is vomiting curdled milk that smells sour, consider spacing feedings more apart to give the baby time to digest. Recent studies show that the longer a baby is breastfed, the less likely he or she will be to contract ear and other infections.
- First foods: Things to consider when deciding if your baby is ready for solid foods: Can he or she sit up by themselves? Are teeth present? Some doctors consider the appearance of teeth a sign that digestive enzymes are present for digesting solids. First foods should be easy to digest. Cooked apples, pears, sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash are good starters. Wait 4 days between introducing new foods to watch for food allergies. The most common food allergies are to cow’s milk, wheat, soy, corn, eggs, fish, seafood, chocolate, citrus fruits, and nuts.
- Children: Children’s diets should consist mostly of cooked vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and small amounts of animal protein. Limiting sweets, cold foods, and iced beverages are important for the development of the digestive system. Dairy and sweets should be avoided if your child has problems with excess phlegm production.